On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected the Sindh government’s appeal against the decision of the Sindh High Court (SHC) to overturn Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s conviction for the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
A three-judge SC bench led by Justice Mushir Alam has ordered the release of the defendant, according to the brief verdict. The ruling was rejected by one judge of the court.
“Mahmood Sheikh, who represented Sheikh, told AFP, “The court has come forward to state that there is no crime he has committed in this situation.
“After 18 years of denial, Sheikh told the SC on Wednesday that he played a “minor” part in the shooting.
Nearly two weeks ago, a letter handwritten by Sheikh in 2019, in which he acknowledges minor complicity in the killing of the reporter of the Wall Street Journal, was sent to the Supreme Court. It was not until Wednesday that Sheikh’s lawyers verified it was written by their client.
The British-born Sheikh did not explain or state precisely what his supposedly minor role in Pearl’s killing included anywhere in the three-page letter sent to the SHC.
At the time he was abducted in January 2002, Daniel Pearl, 38, was doing research on religious violence in Karachi. A month later, a gruesome video was delivered to the US consulate showing his decapitation. Sheikh was eventually convicted in 2002 and sentenced by a trial court to death.
In its order of April 2, 2020, the SHC revoked the conviction of Omar Sheikh for murdering The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief. Three other men, Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib, who had earlier been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi, were also acquitted by the SHC.
Subsequently, both the Sindh government and Pearl’s parents filed separate appeals in the Supreme Court against the SHC’s decision.